Mallorca is at its scenic best in the gnarled ridge of the Serra de Tramuntana, the imposing mountain range that stretches the length of the island’s western shore, its soaring peaks and plunging sea cliffs intermittently intercepted by valleys of olive and citrus groves and dotted with some of the island’s most attractive towns and villages. An enjoyable way to admire this spectacular scenery at a leisurely pace is to drive or cycle along the coastal road Ma-10, which runs from Andratx to Pollença – though be aware that some of the twists and turns are quite precarious. If you’re reliant on public transport, the easiest way to explore the north is to travel up from Palma to Sóller and use this town as a base, making selected forays along the coastal road. Sóller is within easy striking distance of the mountain village of Deià and the monastery of Valldemossa to the southwest, or it’s a short haul northeast to the monastery of Lluc, the quaint town of Pollença and the resort of Port de Pollença.
As far as beaches are concerned, most of the region’s coastal villages have a tiny, shingly strip, and only around the bays of Pollença and Alcúdia are there more substantial offerings. The resorts edging these bays have the greatest number of hotel and hostal rooms, but elsewhere accommodation requires some forethought.
Hiking in northern Mallorca
Hiking in northern Mallorca
The Serra de Tramuntana provides the best walking on Mallorca, with scores of hiking trails latticing the mountains. Generally speaking, paths are well marked, though apt to be clogged with thorn bushes. There are trails to suit all levels of fitness, from the easiest of strolls to the most gruelling of long-distance treks, but in all cases you should come properly equipped – certainly with an appropriate hiking map (available in Palma and at the Sóller turisme), and, for the more difficult routes, a compass. Spring and autumn are the best times to embark on the longer trails; in midsummer, the heat can be enervating and water is scarce. Bear in mind also that the mountains are prone to mists, though they usually lift at some point in the day.
It’s a dramatic, ten-kilometre journey southwest from Sóller along the Ma-10 to the beautiful village of DEIÀ, where the mighty Puig des Teix mountain ramps down to the coast. At times, this thoroughfare is too congested to be much fun, but the tiny heart of the village, tumbling over a high and narrow ridge on the seaward side of the road, still preserves a surprising tranquillity. Here, labyrinthine alleys of old peasant houses curl up to a pretty country in the precincts of which stands the grave of Robert Graves (1895–1985), the village’s most famous resident – marked simply “Robert Graves: Poeta, E.P.D.” (En Paz Descanse: “Rest In Peace”). From the graveyard, the views out over the coast are truly memorable.